Greens urge action to free Australian journalist and activists detained in Egypt

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The Australian Greens today condemned the looming expulsion of Australian freelance journalist Austin Mackell from Egypt and the detention of his colleagues.

Greens communications spokesperson WA Senator Scott Ludlam said the arrests Mr Mackell, journalist Aliya Alwi, student Derek Ludovici and labour activist Kamal Fayoumi were yet another attempt by the military junta in Egypt to silence opposition.

"We now understand the authorities in Egypt have released Mr Fayoumi but Mr Mackell, Ms Alwi and Mr Ludovici remain in custody. According to reports, supporters of Mr Mackell and his associates have told the Australian Embassy that Egyptian police are prepared to release him to Australian officials for deportation. It is not easy to get the very latest information, but it has been claimed by associates of Mr Mackell that the Embassy has not yet sent an official to secure his release. The Australian Government should be doing everything possible to secure the freedom of Mr Mackell and his colleagues."

"The arrest of individuals for bringing attention to the strikes by workers and students in Mahalla, and the threatened expulsion of a journalist for doing their job, are outrageous attacks on freedom of the press and the right to organise."

"The arrests of Mr Mackell and his associates in Mahalla are a clear case of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces - SCAF - regime attempting to bully opponents and hound reporters out of Egypt. After the fall of Hosni Mubarak, SCAF pledged to protect the revolution and realise its objectives. Instead they have been responsible for a series of bloody crackdowns on dissent and free expression in Egypt."

"Mr Mackell was accused of paying Egyptians to protest -in keeping with the junta's self-serving claims that foreigners are responsible for any discontent in Egypt. Egypt was in its second day of a general strike yesterday and strikes were occurring in Mahalla before Mr Mackell and his colleagues arrived in the town. The allegation that a freelance Australian reporter is responsible for the unrest in Mahalla is frankly ridiculous."

Media Contact: Giovanni Torre - 0417 174 302